(Euthamia, Soldiago)

Summary of Key Identification Points

This page covers only the most common Goldenrods in Ontario (with one or two exceptions). The key identification features are listed for each Goldenrod species. You may find this page helpful when used in conjunction with the Newcombe & Peterson field guides, as well as the Owen Sound Field Naturalists book, Asters, Fleabanes & Goldenrods of the Grey-Bruce.
PLEASE NOTE: Common names for Goldenrods vary considerably, and when cross-referencing, you should always use the scientific name.
I've included Houghton's Goldenrod (Solidago houghtonii) (which is rare) because it's found on the Bruce Peninsula, which is one place I like to go.

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Grass-leaved Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)

  • flowers: inflorescence flat-topped
  • leaves: narrow, horizontal (grass-like)
  • leaves: scented (crush to smell)
  • leaves: often have large black spots
  • stem: erect
  • habitat: moist ground, fields
  • common

Bog Goldenrod (Solidago uliginosa)

  • flowers: inflorescence stems very erect, close to the main stem
  • leaves: basal & lower stem leaves sheath the stem
  • leaves: basal & lower: toothed
  • leaves: upper - much smaller, entire (not toothed)
  • stem: smooth, often red
  • stem: erect
  • habitat: bogs
  • common in bogs

Ohio Goldenrod (Solidago ohioensis)

  • flowers: inflorescence flat-topped
  • leaves: flat stem leaves with one main vein
  • stem: erect
  • habitat: fens, etc
  • similar to: Houghton's Goldenrod
  • locally common

Houghton's Goldenrod (Solidago houghtonii)

  • flowers: heads larger than Ohio Goldenrod
  • flowers: inflorescence has hairy stems compared with Ohio Goldenrod
  • flowers: heads fewer than Ohio Goldenrod
  • leaves: basal narrower than Ohio Goldenrod
  • stem: erect
  • similar to: Ohio Goldenrod
  • very rare: only occurs on upper Bruce Peninsula & Manitoulin Island

Stout Goldenrod (Solidago squarrosa)

  • flowers: heads moderate to large
  • flowers: have spreading, recurved phyllaries (the bract-like things under the individual flowers)
  • stem: erect
  • uncommon in Ontario

Hairy Goldenrod (Solidago hispida)

  • flowers: small flowers in axils of small leafy bracts, right on the stem
  • leaves: markedly hairy
  • leaves: soft & velvety
  • stem: markedly hairy
  • stem: erect
  • similar to: Grey Goldenrod
  • common in certain areas

Gray Goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis)

  • flowers: inflorescence one-sided
  • stem: fuzzy gray, densely hairy
  • stem: arching
  • size: small plant - usually only about 12" tall max.
  • habitat: dry fields
  • common
  • similar to: Hairy Goldenrod

Blue-stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia)

  • flowers: in little tufts up the stem
  • leaves: toothed
  • stem: bluish (glaucous), but not always
  • stem: slightly crooked
  • stem: arches toward the light
  • habitat: open woods, edges of trails
  • common

Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)

  • flowers: in tufts up the stem
  • leaves: very toothed
  • leaves: oval, large, broad
  • stem: crooked
  • habitat: woods
  • common

Here are the three Canada Goldenrod-like goldenrods that are so often confused:

1. Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)

  • flowers: inflorescence pyramidal in shape
  • flowers: all on one side of flower stems
  • leaves: distinctive veins: one midvein, two side veins diverge from midvein near the leaf base and run to end of leaf
  • leaves: sharply toothed
  • leaves: lowest gone by flowering time
  • leaves: biggest just below the flower inflorescence, high up on stem
  • leaves: lots of leaves
  • leaves: feel a bit rough
  • stem: pubescent, but not all the way to the base
  • stem: erect, arching at the top
  • no galls
  • common
  • similar to: Late Goldenrod, Tall Goldenrod, Early Goldenrod

2. Late Goldenrod (Solidago gigantea)

  • flowers: earlier than the other two species of this group (in spite of its name!)
  • flowers: inflorescence more open than the other two species of this group
  • flowers: just after or with Early Goldenrod
  • leaves: "thinly" leathery
  • leaves: larger
  • stem: very smooth & glaucous the entire length
  • stem: within inflorescence sometimes not smooth
  • stem: erect, arching at the top
  • no galls
  • common
  • similar to: Canada Goldenrod, Tall Goldenrod, Early Goldenrod

3. Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)

  • flowers: long flowering season (Jul-Nov)
  • flower heads obviously larger than the other two species in this group
  • leaves: triple-veined
  • stem: pubescent all the way to the base (short hairs)
  • stem: erect, arching at the top
  • has insect galls
  • common
  • similar to: Canada Goldenrod, Late Goldenrod, Early Goldenrod

Early Goldenrod (Solidago juncea)

  • flowers: first of all the Goldenrods to flower
  • flowers: inflorescence "elm-shaped"
  • leaves: biggest towards base of stem; has obvious basal leaves
  • leaves: all leaves are present when flowering
  • leaves: basal leaves offset to one side of stem: these are for next year's plant.
  • leaves: small leaflets in axils of main leaves
  • stem: smooth; may be reddish-purple
  • stem: arching
  • habitat: dry fields
  • common
  • similar to: Canada Goldenrod, Late Goldenrod, Tall Goldenrod

Rough-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago patula)

  • leaves: rough
  • stem: smooth
  • stem: ridged (NOT 4-sided like the books say)
  • stem: erect, arching at the top
  • habitat: wet areas
  • common
  • similar to: Rough-stemmed Goldenrod

Rough-stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa)

  • leaves: rough (fuzzy)
  • leaves: network of prominent veins are indented into the leaf surface
  • stem: rough
  • stem: erect, arching at the top
  • habitat: moist areas, but not as wet as Rough-leaved Goldenrod
  • common
  • similar to: Rough-leaved Goldenrod

Sharp-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago arguta)

  • leaves: lower ones resemble Zigzag Goldenrod
  • leaves: upper ones resemble Gray Goldenrod
  • leaves: smooth
  • stem: smooth lower; fuzzy upper
  • stem: erect, arching at the top
  • habitat: open woods, edges of woods
  • very rare in Ontario
  • similar to: Zigzag Goldenrod

Silverrod (Solidago bicolor)

  • flowers: WHITE, not yellow
  • flowers: in tufts up the stem, but mostly towards the top
  • stem: erect
  • habitat: open woods, edges of woods

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